How to Dispose of Mercury Thermometers in the UK

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A mercury thermometer contains a tiny silvery ball, a hazardous material that can become toxic to humans and other species like household animals or local wildlife. If the glass breaks and you don’t clean up the mercury properly, it will evaporate and contaminate the air. If you put in the trash and leave it outside, birds, cats, foxes and other animals will be in serious harm if they interact with and come into contact with the mercury inside the the thermometer

Studies show that mercury turns into vapour at room temperature and attacks the central nervous system if you inhale it. 

The mercury thermometer contains lethal ingredients that can cause serious health complications if accidentally spilled in the mouth.  

UK’s Environmental Agency (EA) stresses the proper disposal of all products containing mercury, including thermometers. Inhaling mercury vapours can damage your immune system, digestive system, kidneys, lungs, and brain. 

Mercury contains inorganic salts that are corrosive to the eyes, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. Here is how you can dispose of mercury thermometers.  

Find a Local Disposal Centre 

 

Find a safe disposal centre in your local area that accepts mercury thermometers. You can check online or ask a friend about a local disposal centre. 

Call the company and ask the staff if they take mercury thermometers. 

 

Seal the thermometers in a plastic Bag

 

Use a bag or container with a tight lid. Put the thermometer inside the container and put the lid on it. 

Make sure you don’t use a large container because the thermometers will move around and break. 

Label the container “mercury” or “hazardous material” so people can avoid touching it. 

Drop off the Container at Disposal Centre

 

Before dropping off the container at your local disposal centre, make sure you call the facility. 

The purpose is to know the opening and closing hours and save your time. The disposal centre staff will tell you the timings. Put the container in your car carefully and take it to the disposal centre. 

Most disposal or recycling centres in the UK charge a small fee. Make sure you pay the fee before giving them the container. 

If you want to save time, find a disposal centre that offers a hazardous material collection service. 

If your local council does not allow dropping off a container full of thermometers, you can contact the recycling facility for collection. 

 

How to Dispose of a Broken Thermometer 

 

A broken thermometer is very dangerous for your health and wellbeing. Disposing of it correctly is very important. 

Start by putting on rubber gloves and a HEPA-based respirator to protect yourself from inhaling mercury vapours that can cause coughing, sore throat, digestive problems, such as nausea and vomiting. 

Pick up the glass pieces and place them on a paper towel. 

Avoid vacuuming the spilled mercury because the machine could spread the hazardous material in the indoor space, affecting the air quality. 

Use a piece of cardboard to collect the toxic material into small balls. Hold the piece at 45 degrees to the floor and sweep the material. 

Put the paper towel inside a Ziploc bag and close it immediately to prevent vapours from escaping. 

Place the Ziploc bag into a large garbage bag and toss it in the rubbish bin carefully and protect it from interference. Throw away your gloves and wash your hands with soap and lukewarm water. 

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